Jeffrey LewisLame Duckitude

It is interesting watching the maneuvering among various countries as the Bush Administration comes to an end.

  • Indian PM Manmohan Singh decides to make a last push at the US-India nuclear deal.
  • Iranian Foreign Minister indicates that, rather than a freeze-for-freeze, Iran will just chill out.
  • The Polish PM tells Bush to stick his missile defense interceptors some place else — though negotiations continue.

I remember that inane talking point from Cheney in the 2004 campaign about how it was a great benefit that the sitting Vice-President wouldn’t be running to succeed the President. “I’m not worried about what some precinct committeemen in Iowa were thinking of me with respect to the next round of caucuses of 2008,” he said.

That always struck me as the essence of Cheneyism — the idea that accountability and democratic processes were contrary to solid policymaking. I also thought it foolish, as it was certain to magnify the lame-duck effect if the President were unable to assert the possibility of policy continuity in the form of a designated successor.

It is less clear to me today whether the President has more or less leverage with other countries than he would if John McCain were trying to run with him than away from him — Singh, for example, seems jolted into action because his sweetheat deal is about to become null and void. Others, in Iran and Poland, seem unwilling to crawl too far out on a limb that may get sawed off in January 2009.

Interesting times.


  1. J House (History)

    There was more to Cheney’s comment than you might suspect- a sitting VP with Presidential aspirations is a different political animal, spending the next 4 years networking, raising funds and weighing every move with an eye towards occupying the WH.
    It was a luxury afforded to Bush, no question, and unique in recent Presidential politics.
    As for Cheney’s unaccountability? It comes with the job as VP, unfortunately.

  2. Ward (History)

    All presidents serve a set period of time (four or eight years); some, however, keep more influence longer. Bush’s weakness overseas is no doubt a reflection – in part – of his weakness at home (approval ratings lower for longer than any modern president). I would guess his early attitude toward world politics (indifference toward treaties and world institutions, disrespect for certain leaders and nations) has some impact as well.

    It is discouraging to consider that the peace and security of our nation depends to a certain extent on this man’s performance.

  3. R. Kelly (History)

    “It is discouraging to consider that the peace and security of our nation depends to a certain extent on this man’s performance.”

    And yet, his job approval rating is 50% higher than that of our Congress. Or are you saying that Congress has nothing to do with the peace and security of our nation?